Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Always Sane

I’m not. Not always sane. Sometimes I think matters of principle are beyond all possibility of compromise, and that’s simply nuts. Yes, we have to compromise even on matters of principle, sometimes. Without such a clear-eyed, rational understanding of how the real world works, there would be no United States.

Slavery was a matter on which there could be no compromise, by decent people. Yet there was. John Jay, the first Chief Justice, wrote in 1786 that “To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.” But it was excused. Oliver Ellsworth, signer of the Constitution, said, “All good men wish the entire abolition of slavery, as soon as it can take place with safety to the public, and for the lasting good of the present wretched race of slaves.” But to realize such wishes of ‘all good men,’ nothing was done. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it…” Yet…

Slavery was somehow supposed to be eliminated sometime in the mid-1800s – no new slaves were to be brought into the country starting in 1808, and it was imagined that the South’s peculiar institution would simply whither away. Or something. Turns out, it was drowned in blood. And that war, too, was fought not over slavery, but to preserve the Union that compromise had made possible. In this instance the South would not compromise, simply because Lincoln, who was no abolitionist, had been elected. For his part, Lincoln was not a man who would allow his country, his Union, to vanish. Two implacable opposites – and so a most costly war.

It isn’t high-sounding rhetoric, as of Jay or Ellsworth or Jefferson. Their sentiment had no passion, and amounts to moral onanism. Their compromise with slavery couldn’t have been unbearably distressing, or they would have taken pains to undo not the effects of their compromise - Union – but the damage to the nation’s honor. They would have started fifty years earlier the organs of the abolitionist movement.

Again, it isn’t a fanatical devotion to some theory – say, States rights over individual rights (the individuals being, of course, also property). This rigidity reflects no beauty from the inner man, but rather a smallness of imagination, and a selfishness of purpose that makes one actually ugly. If we must be fanatically devoted to something, let it not be to a theory, but reality. I know - a vague platitude, but there it is. Indeed, it's all there is.

This is what wisdom is: knowing what the right, or rather the righteous action is, in a given circumstance. Sometimes we must be hard, sometimes soft. Sometimes we must comfort, sometime rebuke. Sometimes we must be Job at the beginning of the story, clinging to his integrity, and sometimes we must be Job at the end of the story, repentant of even his righteousness.

Too frequently, the answers aren’t as clean-cut as we may imagine. Not everything is, as it were, black or white.

So, with illegal immigration. It needs to stop. Period. It is Lincoln’s position, that the Union might be saved. How to achieve this end, in the real world? Not how it should be done, but how it can be done? Remembering that we’re dealing with politicians, a constitutionally craven lot? How can it be dealt with? Alas, by whatever name, given the panderers and traitors with whom we must trade, some version, by whatever name, of amnestia. “Regularization.” “Guest workers.” Whatever.

This must be the odious three-fifths compromise, that might achieve a worthy end. A wall? Necessary. Enforcement of existing law? Well, duh? New laws? This Congress certainly doesn’t even seem to recognize the laws made by their predecessors of 20 years ago – or in many cases by their younger selves. So, sure, why not – new laws. Enforced. Jail time for CEOs? Yes – let’s build prisons for them, on the moon. In other words, that’s not likely to happen.

We bend, and get some movement in the right direction. We refuse to bend, and we break. And remember we’re dealing with cowards in Congress, and criminals crossing in hordes across “our” “border.” So, for this country to remain a sovereign nation-state, action must be taken. Remember, after all, what the actual, technical, legal name of Mexico is. Los Estados Unidos de Mexico. The Unites States of Mexico. Let’s do what we can to keep this from becoming more than an homage.

Can we handle the ten or fifteen or twenty million illegals here now? Yes, we can. Can we handle all their siblings and parents and children? - for citizens have the right to bring their families here. Can we handle that? Not if we wish to preserve the Union. These newly legal immigrant citizens would transport the population of Mexico into the USA, a sort of reverse slave trade – blacks came involuntarily, illegals rush to come, illegally. If we imagine huge enclaves of scores of millions of non-English speaking, unassimilated immigrants, then we must imagine entire cities, and entire states, dominated by them. And we have a new Confederacy – a population dedicated to an alien way of life, importing a third world culture of socialism, of illiteracy, of poverty.

We have a strong culture, and a powerful self-identity. But it is not immortal. It can be damaged. It can be destroyed. This is what is at stake. For its preservation, we must compromise. We must do what it takes, to dam the flood. And what it takes, I think, is compromise. Citizenship? They do not deserve it and ought not receive it - and if they get it, we get their whole vast family. Legal status? It seems the give part, of give and take. Employer sanctions? Jobs are why they come, mostly, so yes, sanctions are necessary. A wall? Yes, please – a long one, and high. Not to fence anyone in. To fence unwanted, unnecessary, unwelcomed people out. Ours are not prison walls - they are treasury walls. We must protect what is valuable, because not all greed is ours.

Why don't these people get it, these Congressmen of the Future Confederacy? I'm not a big believer in conspiracies. It's not some grand plot to undermine the concept of national sovereignty. Rather, it has to do with a heart that has so much gooey, squishy softness to it that it's swollen out of the ribcage, refluxed up the esophagus, through the sinuses and into the brain - turning it too into a sort of gingerbread sugar-dough. There must be, somewhere, a third half of the brain that they're using, neither intuitive nor rational - just somehow magical, where nice things happen because you have a kind motive. Maybe that's the brain the Scarecrow got from the Wizard. 'Cause that's what it feels like. Oz. But even the Emerald City had a wall.

Sanity is that state of mind that is most in harmony with reality. Let’s be sane.


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